Friday, March 30, 2012

I got tricked into seeing The Hunger Games yesterday. I read the book 6 months ago. That wasn't very good, and the movie is pretty much the same. The movie has some of the most annoying camera work I've ever seen though too. Every camera shot is a close up, either on someone's face or hand or in a couple cases their eye or lips. And even when two characters are just standing around talking the camera would jump from close up to close up. Sometimes it would pan from close up to close up, which is even more annoying. And the action scenes became an unwatchable blur due to the camera being set too close. Anyway, thumbs down.

I wouldn't have agreed to even see the movie except Kate Reid couldn't remember the name of it so she made it sound like we were meeting to see that Taylor Lautner movie where he's like the Bourne Identity guy but in high school. (It's called Abducted, but neither of us knew the name. That movie didn't look very good either, but at least I didn't already know the story.) Then I showed up at the theater and the Hunger Games is playing and Kate thought we'd been talking about that movie the whole time.

What's the appeal of Hunger Games? I could kinda see why girls like Twilight. But this doesn't even really have a romance (at least in the first book), nor is the protagonist an unexceptional every-woman that's easy to identify with, and there aren't any vampires. From what I remember, the girls in my high school english class weren't particularly fond of the Lord of the Flies.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Inspired by my sister Lauren's christmas present I've been playing old video games. Mostly SNES games that I never had growing up. Here's a summary.

Super Mario World is pretty easy. Jumping from platform to platform is just like Mario 3 on the NES, I rocked at that game. Also it makes my stomach lurch when Mario has a really close call and sometimes I unconsciously wave the controller around to empasize how far I want Mario to leap. It's an effect video games haven't had on me since playing NES games in jr high.

Gradius III is super difficult. I've played it a dozen times and can't get past the first boss. I just read a faq online and there doesn't seem to be any tricks, just be super careful. I can get to the first boss, and almost beat him, but then in a stroke of bad luck I'll get killed and not be restarted far enough back to get the power-ups needed to even come close to beating him the second time. It's like Mario 1 that way. If you die in the last castle of Mario 1 and have to restart it small it's 10x as difficult because there're no power ups.

Aladdin is pretty easy, though it took me a while to remember how to beat that boss in the market place. And then that lava stage totally ramps up the difficulty. That lava stage is killer.

Super Ghosts n Ghouls is a difficult game. The main guy moves as slow as mollasses and can barely jump. Zombies appear right at your feat and they run faster than you! It took me a while to discover that you can double jump but that made things at little easier once I'd figured that out. It's weird how all the weapons power ups are actually worse than your starting weapon. Why would you want a sword to swing at zombies when you start with infinite spears to throw at them? I also think it's a bit cheap that the zombies can walk through pillars that you have to jump over and can't throw spears though.

Played a bit of Zelda but that game's boring. And a bit of the Lion King but I don't like the way it controls. Super punch out is mildly entertaining but somehow more frustrating than the NES version.

(Mack puts on ~40 pounds and Dennis doe not approve.)
Mack: We've been through this. I'm cultivating mass.
Dennis: Stop saying that. And if you are, stop cultivating and start harvesting!

Friday, March 23, 2012

I've been watching a little Battlestar Galactica. It's sometimes hard to watch because it takes itself sooo seriously. That and the characters like to say "frack," which sounds idiotic, and about 1/4 of each episode is spent watching people running around on some far off planet (and I'm pretty sure their story will never rejoin the rest of the characters). There's also a worrisome "ends justify the means" thread running through the series, almost like 24.

My last and biggest problem with the show is that every cylon spy is a woman who uses sex to manipulate unsuspecting/sex-crazed/stupid men. Not a very flattering depiction of women, or men I guess. And I think we're averaging like 2 lingeringly slow sex scenes per episode because of it.

Meh. I watched the first season while doing work this week and I don't think I'm going to watch any more of it.

I've also been watching this brit show Doc Martin and have been thoroughly enjoying it. I recommend it much more than Battlestar Galactica (which I guess I don't recommend, actually). It's like Northern Exposure except the doctor is like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory.

(Dale gets a job as a waiter at Hooters)
Hank: I can't believe you took the job.
Dale: I had to! They only offered me the job 'cause they thought I wouldn't take it. They were calling my bluff. Now I'm calling their bluff! It's a classic double bluff reverso!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

I met up with Rachel and Puja (and their spouses) yesterday in Arlington. It was a good time, and we didn't spend the whole time arguing but I did receive a lot of criticism for my practice of microwaving chinese food without first removing the metal handle.

I feel like Puja knows the theory involved but has unrealistic expectations of this practical application. And Rachel tried to convince me with a lot of cautionary webpage quotes and videos of exploding tin foil. Everyone thought my reasoning was hilariously unrealistic, much like when I tried to explain to Eric and Dave why birds don't get electrocuted on the power lines and they accused me of making things up. But, just like then, I'm still right.

A good title of this blog entry, if I were still titling entries, would be "Vindication!!!"

So a microwave works by directing microwaves into the little food chamber. The microwaves bounce around in there until they are absorbed by water and wet-ish foods, or they hit a metal object and the microwave either is reflected or is absorbed to electrically charge or heat the metal objected (which also causes reflections), or if the microwave chamber is empty they just bounce back and forth until your microwave burns out due standing wave feedback. Metal objects that fold back on themselves (like crumpled tin foil or the tines of forks) will easily spark and burn or melt, and metal objects that can't spark back to themselves (like a knife) will accumulate more and more charge until they can spark all the way to the microwave walls or ceiling and cause damage to your appliance.

The chinese food container has a metal handle that's just a heavy wire wrapped into loops at both ends where it holds the paper container. Put in the microwave, the loops at each end will create little sparks where the metal loops, and it might singe the paper container a bit and get the metal handle hot.

The middle/top of the metal handle may develop a slight net charge but it is insufficient to create a spark to the walls of the microwave because most of the charge is dissapated by the frequent looping sparks at either end and the chinese food itself (condensation inside the food container which means the handle isn't well insulated from the food) will slowly also bleed off electrical charge from the handle. Any microwaves reflected by the metal handle will bounce around a bit more but they won't cause much feedback into the magnetron because they'll be absorbed by the chinese food. (The capacitance of the entire "handle plus damp food" system is too large for it to develop a charge that can cause a spark to the wall to damage your microwave. It's like putting two piles of spaghetti on a plate and dropping a knife on top such that it has one end in each pile. Then microwaving the plate. No sparks will result because the spaghetti has too much capacitance.)

Net result: I save 30 seconds of struggling to unbend and remove a chinese food handle, and my microwave experiences exactly the same wear and tear as heating up the chinese food without the handle. (Once I did burn my hand by grabbing the handle too quickly. You just gotta be slightly more careful.) The next time I get chinese food I'll videotape it being microwaved and we'll see.

Update: You might have read "vindication" and assumed that I had evidence and not just reasoning based on assumptions and approximations. But that's not how I roll.

me: Hi, I'm calling for Chris _. Is he available?
Lady: Will he know what it's regarding?
me: Umm, no, would you like the case number?
Lady: Sure, then I can get the file for him.
(I give her the case number and get put on hold)
Chris: Yeah?
me: Hi is this Chris _ ?
Chris: Yeah. I just got handed your file. Let me look through it for a second to see if I can remember it.
me: Sure, no problem.
(30 second pause)
Chris: Okay, I don't remember this at all. Let's see what you've got.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Finally changed my voicemail. I think I three people complained that the delay until the beep is too long, (it's because I couldn't find the # key on this touchscreen phone). Just a warning, the new voicemail greeting might be confused for one of those annoying "hello?" voicemails that try to get you talking before revealing themselves as machines, but it would only fool you the first time, and even that is doubtful.

Also, today I got my hair cut, called Comcast (they're still billing me for tv I cancelled) and called Verizon (update my billing info). It's been a super productive day of annoying leg-work.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

I got a coupon with my new graphics card that's for a free download of Dirt 3. Supposedly a $50 value but I don't play racing games so I was going to just give it away. I had just finished writing up a craigslist post for it when I noticed that this coupon has a expiration date of before I even received my purchase! The whole offer is a scam! Now I'm not sure whether to give Newegg an angry call or just forget the whole thing. I wasn't going to play the game or even make money selling it.. but maybe it's the principle of the matter? What would Jean Luc Picard do?

I was going to get a haircut today but I think I'm too lazy. My hair still looks alright. It's not a complete sphere yet.

Instead I'm going to a soccer game with my cousin. It will be my first soccer game since my little sister used to play in jr high. Will DC win? Will we lose? Will it end with a 0 - 0 tie? All very possible.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Just ordered this baseball cap for myself. Soon I will be worrying passing liberals who will think I'm a crazy conspiracy theorist, while simultaneously serving as a painful reminder to conservatives of the racist undesirables who continue to make up an embarrassingly large part of their voting base. Ah, good times to come.

I'm feeling much better now and I have a whole bag full of new medicines that will probably expire before I fall sick again. I also did fix my phone, but the fix involved wiping out all the phone numbers on there so unless your number is a 202 or 707 number I won't even have a guess as to who's calling. I'll probably figure out how to import all the numbers into the phone again at some point but for now I have a text file on my computer with everyone's phone numbers that I use to look numbers up before dialing. It's like being back at my parents house growing up, except there we had a large sheet of paper with telephone numbers on it.